Immigration, asylum and anti-deportation

The Police Bill's threat to migrants

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 puts the residency status of non-UK nationals in greater jeopardy and perpetuates existing racial inequalities in the criminal justice system.

No to offshoring asylum-seekers!

The Tories’ latest anti-migrant move — suggestions of removing asylum-seekers to camps in remote locations, hundreds or thousands of miles away, while their claims are processed — has now been condemned by numerous humanitarian and migrants’ rights organisations, by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and, though in fairly timid terms, by the Labour Party. Many organisations have pointed to the humanitarian consequences of Australia’s use of this model. As Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council put it: “We know from the Australian model that offshore detention leads to appalling outcomes...

"We need to develop workers' capacities"

Henry Chango Lopez (pictured above, centre, before the pandemic) is the new General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). He spoke to Sacha Ismail. In recent years the IWGB has had a high profile in part because it’s grown quite a lot when trade unions in general have stagnated. Why is that? It’s really just about the situation of workers at the moment, the way the economy is, outsourcing, precarious employment – these are problems that many unions have not tackled. Unions do not effectively organise workers in these situations. The problem is so wide...

Review: The Truth About Modern Slavery

Interview with Emily Kenway here. When I set out to research modern slavery for my master’s thesis in 2019, academic research which sought to understand modern slavery as a part of capitalism was few and far between, and information in the public sphere challenging the mainstream understanding of modern slavery was non-existent. Emily Kenway’s The Truth About Modern Slavery is an incredibly valuable text for that exact reason. It breaks down the way that the narrative of modern slavery is used by politicians in order to further reactionary political goals, for example tightening border...

Life-saving branded a crime

Dozens of activists from NGOs including Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières are facing up to 20 years in prison in Italy on “human trafficking” charges after they saved thousands in the Mediterranean. Italian prosecutors claim that rescue ships arranged direct transfer of refugees from smugglers before returning the boats for further use. “Saving lives is never a crime…,” Francesca Cancellaro, lawyer for the crew of the Iuventa (a former fishing vessel, operated by a German NGO), told the Guardian. “While the EU turned away from the Mediterranean, transforming it into a mass grave...

Malaysia deports 1086 to Myanmar

On 23 February, the Malaysian government deported 1,086 people back to Myanmar. This was against the orders of the Malaysian High Court, which ruled on the same day that the Myanmar nationals should be allowed to stay temporarily. There are millions of exploited migrants in Malaysia, and over a hundred thousand Burmese refugees. The government announced plans to deport 1,200 people, including children. 114 people are unaccounted for by the government as they were not handed over to the Myanmar navy. Despite the Malaysian government’s claims that they would not deport any Rohingya or official...

"Modern slavery": grandstanding vs helping workers organise

Emily Kenway is a former adviser to the UK’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner and the author of The Truth About Modern Slavery (Pluto Press, 2021). She spoke to George Wheeler for Solidarity. (The book is reviewed here.) Can you explain a little of what the book is about, and why you wrote it? The book is about how modern slavery is a particular narrative about exploitation, constructed largely by philanthrocapitalists, anti-sex work activists and anti-migrant politicians. It shows how calling exploitation “modern slavery”, and all that this entails, suggests a moral crusade but undermines the...

Wages for immigration?

This article responds to Ashley J Bohrer’s article, ‘Wages for Immigration’, Spectre (Spring 2020) Social Reproduction Theory (SRT) is a theoretical framework for all kinds of work that reproduces capitalist accumulation at different levels, often for free within the home but also on the cheap. It asks: why do women still do most of the housework? Why are some jobs, typically women’s jobs, so badly paid? SRT argues that maintaining structures of inequality and social institutions such as the nuclear family are useful to capitalist accumulation. For example, child labour has been illegal for...

Activist agenda: Asyum-seekers, Uyghur solidarity

The Labour Campaign for Free Movement is celebrating a victory: the Home Office backing down from plans to house up to 200 asylum seekers in prefab accommodation next to Yarl’s Wood detention centre. Their “official” reason is that anticipated extra demand to house asylum seekers never materialised. But... Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are moving a motion to their student union general meeting to campaign in solidarity with the Uyghurs: more at the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign website. • All campaign links and info, and suggested wordings for labour-movement...

After the Napier fire: close these camps!

29 January saw a fire in Napier army barracks, in Kent, which is being used to house several hundred asylum-seekers. Simultaneously the site was in the middle of a Covid-19 outbreak, with over 130 positive cases. Clearly the poor, cramped living conditions are driving waves of deadly infection. Home Secretary Priti Patel’s response? Assume the fire was a deliberate act of arson (without evidence) and rubbish claims that the accommodation was at all sub-standard (because it was fine for soldiers, despite having been uninhabited for ten years). The same issues are raised by the Home Office plans...

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